Injury of Cleaner at school due to faulty gate

PUBLISHED 13 May 2013

This case was extremely interesting as it involved a complex set of factual circumstances where our client‘s wife was the cleaner at a Local School. Due to her ill health she was unable to complete her duties as a cleaner. There were discussions that took place with the school as to allowing her husband to overtake her duties whilst she was unable to complete them. Discussions occurred between the principal and the husband and wife prior to work commencing.

The husband started to do the duties of a cleaner at the school on behalf of his wife. Payments were still made to the client’s wife for the work that he completed. Our client suffered significant injuries to his back and neck as a result of the fall. As it occurred on the school premises as our client was mopping a veranda area when suddenly without warning he mopped against part of the fencing and the fencing gave way.

On further inspection he realised that there was actually a gate which was there for no apparent reason. Expert evidence was organised relating to the topic of latching mechanism of the gate. So as not to delay the matter we commenced court proceedings in the District Court of Parramatta.

We initially thought that this claim could be a Workers Compensation Claim and an application was made to the school’s workers compensation insurer. The matter went to the workers compensation commission and we felt that the best course of action was to proceed with the claim as a public liability claim. As we were unable to deem our client to be a worker under the Workers Compensation Act, we sued the school by way of a public liability claim as the premises were dangerous and the school owed a duty to our client to ensure his safety. The school denied liability and the matter was fast approaching a hearing date.

Significant amount of time and expert evidence was obtained about the duty of the school as the occupier of the premises and what precautions should have been taken to ensure our clients safety.

The parties attended a Mediation where offers were exchanged. An offer of up to $100,000.00 was made at the Mediation and was rejected by our client as this was not a sufficient enough result. We also advised our client against that offer.

The Matter was listed for hearing and further negotiations took place on the day of the hearing and the matter eventually resolved for $150,000.00 between the parties.

Although the client was working at the school there was a duty owed by the insurer for all persons on public property. The gate on the verandah was unlatched and caused our client to suffer injury.

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